BBPS

BBPS: Making utility bills and insurance payments a breeze for rural India

Manas Das is a bit worried. It is 2 pm in the afternoon and it has been raining non-stop since early morning. Das had to make the trip to the nearest town to make the last-minute payment for the monthly electricity bill as well as the premium for his life insurance policy. But now, he will have to wait till Monday and, maybe, pay a late fee fine as well. Another unnecessary expense.

But today evening will be special for him. Shyam Pal, his childhood friend and next door neighbour will introduce him to the concept of digital payments and transactions.

It is evening time and Pal finds Das downcast in his home. He learns of the reason and asks Das to fetch the payment details. As Das brings a copy of the bill, Pal takes out his smartphone, and with the press of a few buttons on the touchscreen, makes the payment.

Pal forwards the SMS confirmation on his mobile to Das as proof of the payment done. Das is relieved and wants to learn more about the payment system.

So, what did Pal actually do? He made the payment on behalf of Das through the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS).

BBPS is a bill payment platform that allows consumers to make bill payments of utility services, such as mobile and landline telephones, electricity, gas, DTH, credit cards, and insurance premiums, through an online payment mode, either by self or through agent outlets.

In a nutshell, BBPS connects billers and the banks to make a payment towards bills in a seamless and convenient online mode.

The online channels include the bank (standing instructions, ATM, quick pay e-bill payment system), third-party payment gateway site (via Internet, mobile and e-bill payment), and biller website (Internet and mobile). The physical channels include biller outlets, third party (agent) outlets, and self-help kiosks, where the vendor helps the consumer make the online payment.

It seems a bit confusing? Worry not. It’s actually very simple and convenient.

Das can either carry a copy of the bill to a BBPS Agent outlet (third party), or himself make the payment through an online mode (Internet, mobile), both through a third-party site, bank website or biller website.

So, how does this work? Let’s take Das’ example again! Das can make the payment either through an agent outlet or a bank or make it online himself. The transaction details are forwarded to the BBPS platform, and from there directed to the biller – the electricity supplier and the insurance company. Once the payment is made, the confirmation is relayed back to the channel from which the payment is made (bank, agent outlet, Internet, mobile) through email or SMS. This is exactly what happened when Pal made the payment through his mobile for Das’ electricity bill and insurance premium.

Das is awestruck. He is elated but a bit confused. He is not tech-savvy and doesn’t even have a smartphone. “Don’t worry”, says Pal, “I will teach it to your son. Otherwise, you can always walk to the BBPS outlet in the village 2 km away”.